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Publisher's Summary

In Caitlín R. Kiernan’s The Ammonite Violin & Others, one of contemporary dark fantasy’s most bewitching and distinctive voices is back with another banquet of the weird and unexpected. In his introduction, Jeff VanderMeer (City of Saints and Madmen, Finch) writes, “Kiernan creates her own light in this remarkable collection, and shines it on dark places. In doing so, she gives us gritty, lyrical, horrible, beautiful truths”.

In The Ammonite Violin & Others, the author rises to meet the high expectations she set with such collections as Tales of Pain and Wonder, A Is for Alien, and the World Fantasy Award-nominated To Charles Fort, with Love. Within this book, you’ll discover a dazzling suite of stories situated on the borderlands between the unspeakable and the erotic, the grotesque and the sublime. Here are stories of dream and metamorphosis, strange lands and beings existing beyond the veil of death and beyond this earth. Here is a selkie who’s lost her sealskin, a woman with a blackhole in her heart, a fairie girl fallen to the Queen of Decay, the descent of a modern-day Orpheus, and a killer who has fashioned the most exquisite musical instrument from the remains of one of his victims. Here are dreams, nightmares, and worse things yet.

The Ammonite Violin & Others is comprised of stories first published in the subscription only Sirenia Digest, run by Caitlin for her most devoted fans. This publication marks the stories’ first availability to the general public.

©2010 by Caitlín R. Kiernan. Introduction © 2009 by Jeff VanderMeer (P)2021 by Blackstone Publishing

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Nobody Writes Like Ms. Kiernan

First, a disclaimer: I am a rabid fan of Ms. Kiernan, so I already biased my review in her favor. And also, Ms. Kiernan is vastly intelligent, so a lot of her writing can seem incredibly dense and not very decipherable to a basic understanding, but that is what I think I love most about her work, because she makes you think, whether you want to.

20 stories:

The title story is a riff on the Irish murder ballad "The Twa Sisters." An aging serial killer invites a young cellist to his home on the anniversary of her sister's death. I had never heard of the ballad before I'd read this, so I did some research into the original murder ballad and am pleasantly surprised how Ms. Kiernan deftly brought the murder ballad to a contemporary audience through her narration. This is a pretty brilliant feat, if you ask me.

"The Cryomancer's Daughter" is a nasty piece of work about a female cryomancer (she can manipulate ice and cold) and her lesbian lover. I loved this story. Their relationship is very unbalanced, and Ms. Kiernan shows us just how unbalanced their relationship is through her woven words of heartache and frustration throughout this story. One thing I loved is how the street of where this story takes place is called Garfish Street. If you don't know what garfish are, you are in for an interesting surprise. A nice nod to the H. P. Lovecraft denizens and terrifyingly looking fish.

"Madonna Littoralis", the first story in this collection is a surrealistic look into a relationship that is doomed, is told in a nonlinear way, because it travels back and forth in time.

"Ode to Edvard Munch" is an interesting vampire tale.

"Bridle" is the story of a woman who lives in an inherited mansion. An unkempt shallow pond lives in the mansion's grounds and a dead body is found beside it. Horse hooves mar the lawn beside the body. A mysterious bridle, a fever dream and a look at the Scottish kelpie myth make this a fascinating story.

Just a glimpse into the world of Ms. Kiernan's fictional world. If I had the space to review all the stories within here, I would. I love Ms. Kiernan's work. Highly recommended if you like stories that veer from the ordinary.





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